Welcome to my Holy How-To for PVE Paladins. This is the sixth of what I hope to be a great many posts aimed at helping holy paladins succeed at PVE content. I will focus primarily on max-level talent specs, glyphs, enchants, gems and the like, including tools, tips and tricks that I use, but I hope to touch on levelling content and advice as well.
Today, we’re going to talk about haste and why, exactly, it is your number two stat if you’re a Holy Light paladin and why ALL paladins need as close to a 1.0 second global cooldown as possible. I was originally going to talk about healing meters and parses and the like, but once again, I had a couple of conversations (hi Saunder!) that abruptly changed my mind about this Holy How-To’s topic. So today, folks, Haste and Why to Stack It.
Ask around any WoW forum or blog or ask out there on Twitter what the haste cap is for a holy paladin and you’ll hear 676 echo across the Internet. It’s not really a cap, actually. It’s the minimum required haste acquired through gear for a holy paladin with Judgements of the Pure, Improved Moonkin Form (or Swift Retribution Aura) and Wrath of Air Totem to hit a one-second global cooldown, which has the happy bonus of giving you a one-second Flash of Light as well.
Wait, wait, what’s this “global cooldown” I’m talking about?
WoWWiki explains it better, if not more succinctly, than I could:
“A global or universal cooldown, frequently shortened to “GCD”, is the cooldown which starts every time you start to cast a spell, and it affects all of your class spells. […] The basic rule of thumb is that if the spell affects the casting of the next spell, it will not activate the global cooldown.
If the spell has a casting time less than the global cooldown (or instant cast), you generally have to wait the remainder of the global cooldown. If a spell with casting time is interrupted before it has finished casting, the global cooldown will be canceled, meaning you can start casting a new one immediately.
The global cooldown is generally 1.5 seconds for all classes.”
So there you go, the GCD is this cooldown that starts every time you start to cast a spell and, for paladins at least, is 1.5 seconds in duration.
Having said THAT, how do you get a 1.0 second GCD?
Well, you have to have 676 haste as a minimum plus:
Judgements of the Pure – 15% haste. Always keep this up.
Wrath of Air Totem – 5% haste. Mmmmmm. Shammy goodness.
Improved Moonkin Form/Swift Retribution Aura – 3% haste.
So with all three of these active, if you have 676 haste, your GCD is down to a second. Yay!
But what if you don’t have any of those external buffs? Or just one, but not the other?
Judgements of the Pure only: 998 haste to get to a one-second GCD.
JotP + Imp Moonkin/Swift Ret: 885 haste
JotP + Wrath of Air: 795 haste
So that’s what you need to get that extremely valuable one-second GCD.
But what, exactly, makes it so very important?
Is it the fact that Flash of Light drops down to a one-second cast? Or that your Holy Light drops down to about 1.3 seconds after Light’s Grace comes up? Well, no. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that these cast times can drop so significantly, but it’s not the most important reason why we want to hit that 1.0 GCD.
Holy paladins have several instant casts that we have to use frequently in various encounters.
1) Beacon of Light. Instant-cast, subjected to the GCD.
2) Sacred Shield. Instant-cast, also on the GCD.
3) Judging. Instant-cast. On the GCD.
4) Divine Shield. The bubble is on the GCD!
5) Holy Shock. Our only heal that’s not on an absurdly long cooldown that is always instant. On the GCD.
6) Infusion of Light Flash of Light. Instant heal. On the GCD.
7) Lay on Hands. Guess what? Yep, on the GCD.
In each case (and many more — I’m not even touching the Hand spells or blessings or anything!) we are casting and then having to wait anywhere 1.0 to a full 1.5 seconds before we can start casting something else. Doesn’t that seem ridiculous to you? Waiting a full second and a half before we can cast our next Holy Light or Flash of Light or something?
If it doesn’t, it should. We should always be casting and the less time we spend waiting on the global cooldown, the better. We have lots of stuff to be casting! We juggle a 60-90 second Beacon duration with a 30-60 second Sacred Shield duration with a 60 second Judgements of the Pure duration (but the judgement debuff only lasts 20-30 seconds!)… We’re busy people!
Let’s look at a log of mine from a heroic 25-man Putricide attempt from this past Sunday night. I’m going to count up all the Beacons, SSs, judges, Divine Shields (in conjunction with Divine Sacrifice), Holy Shocks, instant FoLs and LoHs I used.
5 Sacred Shields
1 Divine Shield
33 Holy Shocks
14 instant Flashes of Light from Infusion of Light procs
1 Lay on Hands
Let’s see, now… That’s 75 instant-casts. Without any haste, that is 113 seconds worth of GCDs. With a 1.2s GCD, that’s still 90ish seconds worth of GCDs. Because I have a one-second GCD, though, those casts only took me 75 seconds.
I’ve come to realize that people are under the mistaken impression that haste doesn’t matter too much. Mathematically, they’re wrong. Seriously, even if you have a chunk of haste that brings your GCD to 1.2 seconds, are you telling me that you really don’t have anything better to do in the 15 seconds you can still shave off over the course of a 7 minute or so fight? I’m sorry, but every single healer I have ever known has lost a target at least ONCE just because that heal didn’t land quite in time.
The one-second GCD is an imperative, integral part of paladin healing in current content, particularly heroic content. You have to keep Judgements of the Pure up, particularly in something like heroic Saurfang. But you ALSO need to keep up on your beacon if your healing leads are smart and put paladins on the Marks of the Fallen Champion. What happens when your heal doesn’t get off on your assigned mark because you stopped to refresh your beacon or judge? Congratulations! You just wiped your whole raid because you didn’t value haste enough.
Of course, if you usually use Holy Light, you *keep* stacking haste to bring down the Holy Light cast time. With 976 haste (936 haste from gear + 40 from food + standard raid buffs) my Flash of Light is down to a .929 second cast (although GCDs are hard-capped at one-second) and my Holy Light is down to 1.24 seconds with Light’s Grace up.
But really, the faster casting times is just a bonus. The real reason we stack haste is for the GCD.
Where do you get haste, though? I see so many people stuck around 400 haste and then, to make matters worse, they keep picking up pieces that have none on them.
Here’s Kurn’s Golden Rule of Haste: It’s OKAY to use a lower ilvl item that has more haste!
Screw Gear Score! Ignore it. Gear Score does not help you once you’re in a raid, although, admittedly, it may help you get into a raid to begin with. But do not, for example, pick up something off the Emblem of Frost vendor that doesn’t have haste if you’re not at the 676 minimum required, particularly if it’s replacing something that DOES have haste! Do NOT pick up a tier piece that has no haste if you’re going for your 2pc T10 bonus! (Well, unless you get it from Toravon and it saves you 60-95 Emblems of Frost. But even then, that should be temporary.)
The three T10 pieces that have haste are the helm, the shoulders and the chest. There are other options for the chest that are better, though, so for your 2pc T10 bonus, focus on the helm and shoulders and upgrade them as you’re able. It’s okay to use 251 T10 shoulders over 264 non-tier shoulders without haste!
Here’s a site that I rely on fairly heavily that favours haste over other stats. Bear in mind that you won’t hit 50% crit with the gear it suggests. Your mp5 won’t be huge. Your +healing will suffer some. And even your intellect may dip a wee bit. But, by and large, the gear recommended by this site is very well itemized using the default settings — which you can change.
You can also use chardev.org and import your character from the armory and swap gear in and out to see how it affects you. You can even see how you can enchant or gem differently and you can also apply raid buffs. Fun little tool.
For gear lists, here’s a WoWHead listing of all mail and plate gear item level 232 and higher that’s got haste and spellpower but no hit and is usable by a paladin (so you don’t get shammy tier as options). So that includes heroic-level gear all the way up to heroic ICC 25m gear.
Bear in mind that the gear you should be getting will either:
– be luck-based in that it drops at ALL and you have a shot at it
– be the result of hardcore farming it daily, in the case of heroics
– be the result of you having farmed your ass off for money to buy it off the AH or buy the mats or farmed the mats for it
– be the result of a lot of dedicated saving up of Emblems of Frost
What’s easier to get may not be what you want to use long-term. That’s to say, what DOES drop may not be worth spending your DKP or whatever on. It’s always good to figure out what you want and how to get what you want based on your financial status and your raid frequency/progression.
If you really have no idea where to get the haste after all of these resources I’m throwing at you, link your armory here (be logged out in holy spec/gear) and I’ll go through and take a quick look at you because that, ladies and gentlemen, is how important haste is! But I implore you to please do some research yourself. :) I reserve the right to tell you to get off your ass and farm up some gold, too. ;)